Albuquerque Surprises: A Newbie's Top 5
I'm the new girl in town. Literally. I moved here less than two weeks ago from the Phoenix area with my family. We were really looking forward to a change, and also not having to deal with those dreadful summers any longer. I thought I'd share a few observations about our new city:
1. THE VIEWS
Wow, are those Sandias beautiful and close. Holy cow, I love the way I can see the sun's first light on the west side of town before it shines on the east side due to the mountain shadows. Oh my goodness, the city light views are stunning at night. And, I don't know of many other cities where you can see volcanoes on your daily commute. The fact that different parts of town lie at different elevations really allows you to look up or down at sweeping views of the city and beyond.
2. THE FOOD
My first day at work here, my colleague took me to Sadie's of New Mexico. Having spent the last 10 years in Arizona, I thought I knew all there was to know about Mexican food. Well, I do know a lot about Mexican food, but I didn't know how wonderfully different NEW MEXICAN food would be. The use of red and green chiles really sets it apart and gives everything a unique flavor. From the there's-something-special-about-it-that-I-can't-quite-put-my-finger-on chile con queso to the handmade chile relleno to the pillowy sopapillas served with honey, I was in foodie heaven. I raved about Sadie's so much that my parents, who were visiting from out of town, went there for lunch a few days later. My picky dad declared he had eaten the best taco of his entire life there.
3. THE TRAFFIC
I never, ever thought I would say this, but I LOVE rush hour here! It's so easy to deal with the amount of traffic on the roads, and there is hardly ever an extensive delay. Plus, nearly everything in the city is within a 15-20 minute drive of wherever you are. We love that we don't have to spend as much money on gas as we had to in Phoenix, due to the spread-out nature of that metropolitan area.
4. THE PEOPLE
People here are really nice. Really! They wave or nod if you walk by them on the street, hold doors open at restaurants and malls, and are nearly always willing to answer a question from a newbie. When my husband and I visited right after Christmas to scout places to live, our local friends drove us through some neighborhoods near the Tramway and Sandias. So many hikers and bikers were waving that we could barely keep up with all the waves back! I also love the diversity, and how different cultures and races blend together seamlessly, like nowhere I've ever lived before. It's great to live in a city where people are so welcoming, open and friendly.
5. THE VINTAGE VIBE
Albuquerque is not a city that's trying to "Keep Up with the Joneses." It's proud of its history and heritage, and has done a lot to preserve an authentic feel. Take a drive along Central Avenue (Route 66) to see that many of the old hotels here haven't been torn down, as they have been in several other cities. Some of the old hotels have been lovingly restored, and others look as if they haven't been updated in decades. But, that's part of what makes this city so cool - renovated next to original, new and hip next to vintage feel. Downtown doesn't have any looming skyscrapers. This city is not contrived or hiding behind facades - it's true to itself and that makes it a better place to experience for residents and visitors alike.
If you were ever a newbie in Albuquerque, what surprised you about the city?